Software defined storage is something I’m sure you’ve been hearing quite often lately. Today, we look underneath the buzzword and understand what it really is and, more importantly, what benefits it can bring to business.
Software-Defined Storage in a nutshell
Software-defined storage (SDS) is a new technology that decouples the software part of a storage system from the physical hardware. It brings together different storage systems throughout the data centre and make them accessible to applications via a unified software layer usually consisting of industry standard object storage APIs and a simplified management interface.
It also comes with advanced automation and orchestration features that take charge of all sophisticated storage management-related tasks like compression, taking snapshots, data tiering, deduplication, and others.
Storage infrastructures powered by SDS are highly scalable and elastic – yes, just like PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service) clouds. Except that, unlike the PaaS offered by public cloud providers, SDS infrastructures are built and grown in your own data centre. They can be built using existing storage assets and can be grown or scaled out using commodity hardware.
Benefits of Software-Defined Storage
Just like any shiny, new technology, software-defined storage well … shines. But is there any business value beneath the glitter? Let’s talk about the benefits then.
Maximises and streamlines existing storage assets
Although there are SDS solutions that come with their own proprietary hardware, there are also solutions that are purely based on software. These solutions can work with existing storage assets and – through a combination of simplified management interface, automation, and orchestration – allow you to harness previously underutilised storage resources, thereby allowing you to realise real value right from the get-go.
The same automation and orchestration systems can look into your workload and match them with the appropriate storage configurations (e.g. IOPS, size, and tier requirements), allowing you to achieve faster performance and provisioning.
Makes enterprise-class scalability and elasticity affordable
In the past, only large enterprises could easily scale to meet business demands. If they needed more storage to accommodate rapidly increasing data, they simply bought new, oversized, expensive hardware that would have to remain grossly underutilised first for a long period of time. But now, because SDS systems can scale gradually (on an as-needed basis) using commoditised hardware, that level of scalability (minus the waste) can now be enjoyed by smaller businesses too.
Brings virtually all the benefits of PaaS, plus …
The highly scalable, elastic, and cost-effective ability of SDS makes it similar to PaaS. But because SDS infrastructure can reside in your premises, you’re able to gain two key advantages over public cloud PaaS offerings – privacy and full control of your data. This can be vital for companies who store personal data and other sensitive information.
Simplifies adoption and lowers the cost of entry to Big Data analytics and modern applications
You should already be familiar with the huge potential of Big Data analytics. You probably also know that all that unstructured data can easily consume large volumes of storage resources.
The cumbersome, costly, and unscalable nature of traditional storage systems are therefore unsuitable for any big data initiative. SDS systems, on the other hand, with all the qualities mentioned earlier, are perfect for the job. That’s not all. Software-defined storage’s support for standard object storage APIs make them also ideal for developing mobile-based applications that are heavily dependent on data.
Large, data-driven companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have long relied on this kind of storage systems to support their daily operations. It’s time you considered whether this is the kind you’d like to support yours.
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